It's been a while since we've talked about what a worldview is. Now everything we've been doing on this podcast falls under the category of worldview, or worldview training, but I think it's helpful to quickly refresh ourselves on just what a worldview is.
What's a Worldview?
Just simply put, a worldview is the collection of beliefs that you hold about reality, about the way that the world really is. Christianity is a worldview. It answers the common worldview questions, like where did we come from? What happens after death? Is there good and evil? Is truth something that's knowable? ... those type of questions. A world view has answers for those questions.
Now, everyone has a worldview. It's been likened to the glasses through which we view all of reality, but not everyone is aware of their worldview; and often-times when you're not aware of your worldview, this creates problems. You will have parts of your beliefs that contradict other parts of your beliefs. As Christians we should want to have a worldview that has as few contradictions as possible. Now I think Christianity, accurately understood in an objective sense, has no contradictions. That doesn't mean every Christian has a worldview without contradictions, but our goal should be to find these, and resolve them, and work through them.
When the Pieces don't Fit...
Now the title of this episode was "Put that back. You can't use that piece. It doesn't fit in your puzzle." Here's what I mean. A worldview can be thought of like a puzzle. It's comprised of many different pieces, but the problem today is some people want to try and use pieces in their puzzle that don't fit. They're from someone else's puzzle.
Here's an example of this. Let's say you're a naturalist. You're an evolutionist. You think that survival of the fittest is deep-down the basis for how everyone acts; but then you make moral claims, like “such and such is good, or such and such is bad.” In fact recently I held a conversation with someone who held this view. They think man is basically good. They think we don't need laws to make man behave; but they also mentioned, at the same time, that it doesn’t take long after a natural disaster before society breaks down, and people act badly because, they said, at the heart of it, we're just animals.
How do these things fit together? It seems like they have some contradictory beliefs here. Here are a couple I'll just point out. One set of contradictory beliefs would be that man is basically good and doesn't need law in order to be good, but the flip side of that would be that when there is no law, man does not act basically-good. That is a contradiction. That should not be a part of our worldview because our worldview should have explanatory power. It should match reality, so if man is basically good, then man should behave basically good even when he's not incentivized to do so.
Christianity teaches, all the way back from the third chapter of Genesis, at the very beginning, that man is not basically good. Man is basically depraved and pointed towards evil and has a sin-nature. Man does not wake up in the morning and put other people first, by nature. That's one example of a contradiction in that worldview. Someone is playing with a piece from someone else's puzzle. The piece of man being basically good does not fit in the overall framework and worldview of this individual.
Here's another one that doesn't fit. If we're basically just animals, and there's no God, and there's obviously no spiritual authority, and natural selection is what rules and dominates how we interact with each other, then there's actually no such thing as good and evil either. There's no such thing as good actions and bad actions.
This individual in our conversation mentioned that they thought that we should wake up in the morning and decide to do good things, to put other people first, to seek to make society a better place. I think that is admirable. I wish more people had that perspective. Here's the thing; this person is not a Christian, and they don't have any foundation for what it means to be good and bad. I said, "So what does it mean to be good?" I'm using one of our questions here. A while ago we talked about how to use questions in an evangelistic type context. That was my question, "What does it mean to be good?" The person said, "to put other people first, or to provide for your family... to protect those people close to you."
I said, "Okay, so let's say we're in one of those natural disaster circumstances where society is breaking down. What if someone putting their family first means taking something from you and your family by force? What if someone is starving, cannot find work, cannot find food through any legitimate means, and they decide to take it from you by force. Is that a good act or a bad act?" The individual didn't really know what to say, and I understand why because his worldview doesn't have in it an objective definition of right and wrong. How he would have to flesh this out, and I provided this as an option to him, would be that: it’s right for the individual to take your food, from their perspective; they're doing a moral good, but from your perspective they're doing a moral bad. I said, "If that's really how morality works out in your system - in your worldview - then you don't actually have a concept of right and wrong. What you have is a concept of preference and feeling. On this worldview, if you're consistent in a naturalistic survival of the fittest type worldview, there is no such thing as good and evil. There is preference."
I've met some people who are actually consistent in this. They're not playing with other people's puzzle pieces. They're playing within their own box's pieces, and they will say, "I don't like it. If something was done wrong to my family, I would hate that. I would say it's wrong, but I don't think ..." ... and this is key ... "I don't think anything actually objectively wrong was done. I can't say that person shouldn't have done it." Now that should grate against every fiber of our being, whether you're a Christian or not, because our intuition, how we view the world innately before it gets beat out of us sometimes, is that there is true evil in the world, but you have to have worldview where that actually fits.
You can't be a naturalist and make claims that such and such was evil. Now this doesn't mean you can't behave morally without God, or as a naturalist, but it does mean that you can't explain why there is evil, and why there is good … and more importantly, why we should live like it. We need a worldview that is consistent that has pieces that all fit together from one box.
Lions & Abortion
Here's an example from the news in recent history, to illustrate the contradictory nature of worldviews sometimes that people just haven't flushed out. We're going to talk about abortion, lions, and planned parenthood. Planned parenthood is going to be that backdrop for all of this. They are a, "women's health organization." I say that in scare quotes. They provide abortion pretty much as their most profitable and common service, as I understand it. They try to make claims, like abortion is only 3% of their services, but when you count giving a pregnancy test as a service, it really skews the numbers. Abortion is not the same as administering a pregnancy test, even a pro-choice person would tell you that, so abortion is big business for them and they've been caught selling fetal organs: the dismembered, and sometimes full intact children that have been murdered in the process of abortion. This has caused quite an uproar, as well it should.
Along the same time as these videos have been released we've also seen, in the news, a story of a dentist who shot a lion. Now as I understand it he maybe shouldn't have shot that specific lion, but everyone is outraged. The internet, non-Christians, especially, it seems like, are up in arms that this man killed this majestic endangered animal. The lion had a name; it was Cecil. This man has been vilified. He's received death threats. Now I just want to stop there for a second and say, if your worldview makes it okay to threaten a human because of an animal, you seem to have a skewed version of reality.
If your worldview equates animals as more important than people, that's scary. Because if you're consistent that, animal would have to be more important than your child, who's a human also. I can't put my finger on the data for the survey I'm about to talk about, but a few years ago I read the results of a survey that was given. Here was the question. “Your dog is drowning in your pool; your neighbor is drowning in their pool. Whom do you save?” A very high percentage of people chose to save their dog. That is remarkable. What that shows is they don't value human life. As soon as anyone would do something to their child, or their spouse, they would be up in arms. That's an inconsistency in worldview.
What I want to point out is this moral outrage about a lion but not a moral outrage from the same people about babies being pulled apart and dismembered in the womb, which should be the safest place for them.
Obama: It's a problem to "not able to see someone else as a human being."... Unless they're a baby, it seems.
The next inconsistency I want to point out is a little more overt. It deals with President Barack Obama. He has been an advocate of Planned Parenthood from the very beginning. They have thanked him for his support. He has defended it, and this week he's actually made some comments. He's called the harvesting of organs from humans that are killed as part of a ritual, “craziness” and “cruel.” You might think, “Was he talking about abortion?" He even warned about dehumanizing marginal groups of humans, and he warned of the problems that can arise when, "You're not able to see someone else as a human being."
This was said within the last few days, and as of this recording, that's August 5. We might think he's talking about abortion, but he's not. He's talking to some people from the Young African Leaders Initiative and this was in response to a person who brought up the fact that people in some areas of Africa with albinism, are being killed and their body parts are being harvested for ritual purpose. Albinism is the condition of being an albino. There are actually people like that. I happened to meet one who was an Indian when I was in India.
Obama strongly condemned this practice when it was brought up. Here's a quote from him. He said, "Young people, you can lead the way and set a good example, but it requires some courage because the old-thinking people will push back at you. If you don't have the convictions and courage to stand up for what you think is right then cruelty will perpetuate itself." He added, "If there's one thing I want you leaders to come out with it's the notion of you are strong by taking care of people who are vulnerable, by looking after the minority, looking after the disabled, looking after the vulnerable. You're not strong by putting down people. You're strong by lifting them up. That's the measure of a leader." President Obama, by his own words, thinks it is a large problem to marginalize a group of humans, and it's a problem when you're "not able to see someone else as a human being."
Let's simplify the abortion issue into just three lines that anyone can remember. If you can remember your address, you can remember this. The first is that:
1. The taking of innocent human life without proper justification is wrong.
2. Abortion ends the life of an innocent human being without proper justification;
3. Therefore, abortion is wrong.
There are a very small number of appropriate circumstances where we can kill someone else to save life. One would be when the mother's life is, indeed, in imminent mortal peril. This isn't somehow compulsory on the mother where she has to kill her child, but that would be morally permissible. That's a situation no one ever wants to be in. That's pretty much it when it comes to the killing of innocent life in the abortion context being acceptable.
Back to what Obama said, "If you're not able to see someone else as a human being, that's a problem." What is in the womb? Is it a human being? What's the only thing that separates the child in the womb from the four-year old? Time. That's it. That is the only factor. If you give it enough time it will get to that stage. It is human in the womb. It is a being. It is alive. This is a statement of medical and scientific fact. It takes in nutrients. It expels waste. It grows by adding to itself. It is alive. It is certainly human. It's not a turtle. It's not a frog. It's not an alien. People who say they are not sure what it is, that's just a specious argument.
When you ask what two dogs come together and mate to produce, they make dogs. What do two humans make when they come together? They make a human, and that human is a being that is alive. That seems fairly uncontroversial, that it's a human being in there. What else could it be?
It seems like Obama doesn't realize that his world view has some pieces from different puzzles. One would say, "You can't hunt albinos and chop them up for parts," and I totally agree with that. The other piece of his puzzle would say, "You can chop children up for parts”.. unborn children.
The only difference between the unborn and the born is time and a few inches down the birth canal. That's it. Why do you lose your rights as a person just because of your location? That doesn't make any sense. If the child were born, it would not be able to be killed, it would be protected. I hope you see that while there's so much else that could be said about this, that world views need to be consistent. Apologist Dr. James White has said that, "Inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument." I would say that inconsistency is the sign of a worldview in trouble, that needs some help - that needs some rescuing.
Don't play with pieces from other people's puzzles. Strive to have a world view that fits together without contradiction because if you have contradictions in your world view something is untrue. Two things cannot both be true at the same time and in the same way. Our goal as Christians and people in general should be to have a view of reality - because that's really what a world view is - that accounts for as much as possible in a cohesive and harmonious way. If we have contradictions, those are things that we should address, that we should fix.
When you talk with other people, if you notice contradictions, put your finger on them, push a little by asking a question. Don't be pushy, but illustrate that. Make the person account for the discrepancy. Oftentimes people won't know what to say. Depending on the person and the conversation I might not push too much farther, because I'm going to leave them with something to think about. They're going to have that tension in their mind. I believe these two things, but they don't fit together, what should I do? That's where we want to leave them, to let the Holy Spirit work in that instance, if He so chooses and to hopefully open the door for another conversation.
Until next time, sort through those puzzle pieces in your box and make sure you're not playing with pieces from someone else's puzzle! I'll see you next week for unapologetic.